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July 04 2013

*New PICUM report puts spotlight on poverty of migrant children in the EU* ❝BRUSSELS, 20 June,…

New PICUM report puts spotlight on poverty of migrant children in the EU

BRUSSELS, 20 June, 2013 - On the occasion of the meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) in Luxembourg today, PICUM launches a new report calling on the ministers to address the poverty and social exclusion faced by #children who have, or whose parents have, an irregular migration status.

PICUM's report “Child poverty and well-being: Spotlight on the situation of migrant children in Cyprus and the EU” outlines the specific vulnerabilities of migrant children and relevant good practices, in order to inform developments on both European and national levels. The report is the result of a roundtable held by PICUM in partnership with the Commissioner for Children's Rights in Cyprus, the Office of the European Parliament in Cyprus, Eurochild, and KISA, Action for Equality Support and Antiracism in Cyprus on 17 October 2012, prior to a high-level conference on child poverty and well-being, organised by the Cypriot Presidency of the European Union.

Taking the example of the situation in Cyprus, the report identifies major challenges that migrant children face across the EU such as the length of administrative procedures for asylum, lack of access to legal representation, restrictions on accessing services and the gap between rights and entitlements on paper and in practice.

“We know the crisis and austerity measures are having a devastating effect on children and families across Europe. Children with a migrant background are among the most vulnerable, especially when their parents are in precarious employment or they are undocumented. Children only have one childhood. And that experience will shape their chances throughout the life-course,” Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild, emphasized.

The situation of undocumented migrant children is a particular concern. Due to their irregular residence status, or the irregular status of their parents, many children face severe restrictions in accessing essential services, such as education and health care, and are at risk of poverty, social exclusion and exploitation. Changes need to be enacted to respect children's rights and to realize a Europe of equality and prosperity. Today, Ministers from the 27 EU Member States meet to discuss the European Commission's Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion (SIP) launched in February this year, and the European Commission's Recommendation “Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage”, as part of the package.

The European Commission recommendation is a welcome step, recognizing children as individual rights holders and the need to prioritise integrated social investment in children, particularly in times of crisis. With access to quality services as one of the central pillars of the Recommendation, member states are urged to ensure health care services are adapted to ensure undocumented children can enjoy their right to health. Limiting the human rights of undocumented children and denying access to essential services does not reduce the numbers of irregularly staying migrants but causes great individual harm and exacerbates social inequalities to the detriment of individuals, families and communities alike.

http://picum.org/picum.org/uploads/publication/FINAL_Roundtable%20on%20Child%20poverty%20and%20well-being%20of%20migrant%20c

#migration #enfants #pauvreté #EU #PICUM #sans-papiers

May 18 2012

A little house made of human skin

Poignant, thoughtful and exhilarating by turns, the art of the family comes to the Laing in Newcastle. The Guardian Northerner's arts explorer Alan Sykes finds much to enjoy and admire

Family Matters, which opens at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle today, Friday 18 May, shows over 60 artists and their very differing depictions of the family, going back to a 1542 portrait after Holbein of Edward VI aged six, and on to the 21st century.

The exhibition is organised around five broad – and overlapping - themes:
inheritance; childhood; couples & kinship; parenting and home.

Perhaps not surprisingly, death is frequently in the foreground or background of the paintings. Poor young Edward VI, dressed up in imitation of Holbein's grandiosifying iconography of Henry VIII to symbolise the power and continuity of the Tudor dynasty, only survived his father by a few years and died a teenager. Donald Rodney's 1996-7 "In the House of My Father" is a photograph of a miniature house held in the artist's hand. The house is made of skin removed from Rodney in operations for the sickle cell anaemia which was to kill him only a year later, aged 37.

In Gainsborough's charming "The Painter's Daughters Chasing a Butterfly" from the National Gallery, it is thought that the fragile butterfly may have been the painters way of depicting his older daughter Mary, who had died young. Sometimes the portraits are even done post mortem. In Pompeo Batoni's "The Hon Thomas and Mrs Barrett-Lennard with the daughter Barbara Anne", the daughter had been dead for a year when the grieving couple arrived in Rome on a grand tour. The painter had to make the likeness of Barbara Anne from a miniature which the Barrett-Lennards carried with them. Van Dyck's portrait of Venetia Digby was apparently commissioned by her widower, who had plaster casts of her face, hands and feet taken after her death. The sitter had died very suddenly and mysteriously aged only 32, and some suspicion of foul play fell on the husband, but nothing has ever been proved.

It's not all doom and death, however. Zoffany's amusing picture of David Garrick in drag and a rage in Vanbrugh's "The Provok'd Wife" is here, contrasting with the amusing for different reasons and much more overtly theatrical "The Prodigal Daughter" of 1903, by John Collier, in which a modern and independent-minded young woman is pitched against her Victorian-in-every-sense parents.

David Hockney's "My Parents", of 1977, shows his mother smiling fondly at her talented son, while his father is hunched over a copy of "Art & Photography" - apparently he was inclined to fidget when sitting if not allowed to read - while in a mirror on the chest we see a reflection of Piero della Francesca's "The Baptism of Christ" from the National Gallery. Michael Andrews' touching "Melanie and me Swimming" shows the artist teaching his daughter to swim, and looks at parenthood from the opposite end of the lens to Hockney.

Of course, one can have fun thinking of works that could have been included – I would have loved to have seen the extraordinary 1635 portrait">portrait of Sir Colin Campbell, 8th laird of Glenorchy, and his seven ancestral predecessors as laird, by George Jamesone, from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. And some one can do without: even the Laing's Marie-Thérèse Mayne admitted that Joshua Reynolds' "The Age of Innocence" portrait of a young child is "cloyingly sweet", and it certainly makes one understand why the Pre-Raphaelites lampooned him as "Sir Sloshua Reynolds".

Although the "themes", which are enforced through colour-coding in the labels and in the catalogue - which is irritatingly divided into 5 flimsy pamphlets with no index, rather than being in a single handy volume - are too vague to be of any real use, there are certainly enough treasures to make it worth visiting the Laing to enjoy this free show. Other artists in the show include Gillian Wearing, Rachel Whiteread, Vanessa Bell, Mona Hatoum, Sickert, Stanley Spencer, Lely, Julia Margaret Cameron and Allan Ramsay.

Councillor Ged Bell, Chair of Tyne & Wear Joint Museums & Archives Committee (which runs the Laing and other museums and galleries in Tyne & Wear), says:

"It's very exciting to see the North East being involved in a partnership such as this Great British Art Debate project. The North East, as well as the rest of the UK has a wonderful artistic heritage which powerfully illustrates our sense of who we are and the Great British Art Debate is designed to encourage people to take part in an important debate about Britishness."

The Laing is one of the venues in Newcastle and Gateshead which will be taking part in this year's "The Late Shows", which takes place on the evenings of Friday 18 and Saturday 19 May, and this year includes a ukele jam session in the Sage Music Centre, a Space Hopper disco in the Shed, Gateshead, tours of the Victoria Tunnel under the streets of Newcastle, new sculptures at the Mining Institute and exhibitions and events in over 50 other venues – all accessible via a free bus service. Last year 24,000 people visited the 46 participating venues over the two nights, and this year the organisers hope to break that record.

"Family Matters" has been seen at the Norwich Castle Museum and at Museums Sheffield. It is on at the Laing until 2 September and then travels to Tate Britain (1 October to 21 December).


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April 26 2012

Why I've made public the films of my kids growing up | Frans Hofmeester

Time-lapse videos of my children Lotte and Vince have received global attention – to me they carry an important message

I started filming my daughter Lotte as a newborn in 1999, every week, usually on a Saturday morning. After 12 years of filming her, and nine years of doing the same with her brother Vince, I turned the footage into the two films you see today. While I always had the feeling that this project was special and that it deserved a wider audience, I never dreamed that it would get this kind of exposure. The attention has been overwhelming: my daughter's film has been on CNN and Jay Leno, I'm fielding numerous interview requests, and the story was on the front page of an Australian newspaper this morning. It's crazy, and a little intimidating. I'm getting four hours of sleep a night and am running off adrenaline. It's strange for the children, who are used to being behind the camera, to suddenly see themselves on television.

Why did I decide to do the project? When Lotte was born, she was changing at such a rapid pace, and I was desperate to keep the memories intact. As any parent knows, the difference between a child at two days old and two months old is startling. When Vince was born, I started filming him too. Other people might make a photo book, but I decided to film. This is the most photographed and filmed generation ever, but what are we actually doing with these pictures? They just sit in a file on the computer. I wanted to try and convey the essence of my children, of how they look to me. We don't often look at the photographs we take, not in the same way that an artist would look at his paintings.

During the period that I filmed them, they didn't know how special it would be. I've discussed the film with them, and Lotte is a little intimidated. Looking at yourself is very strange. Lotte's video has been viewed more than Vince's, probably because she is a girl, because she's older, female. There is more scrutiny of girls. Her video is very sweet. Vince's is more playful, he's pulling faces, sticking his tongue out, being this cute little boy who won't do what daddy says when he's in front of the camera. I love it. One of the reasons that the project has had such an impact, I think, is because it's very moving. People are touched by it because it conveys a feeling of the soul. They've written to me about their own children. The film makes you realise what life is about, in a direct way. There have been other time-lapse films using photographs, but this conveys much more of an idea of the individual, of their personality.

The video is a short cut of a longer film than runs to 30 minutes, in which you hear Lotte talking. It's much more personal. Putting the film together has taken discipline – my alarm is always set for Saturday morning. Sometimes the children wouldn't want to be filmed, and then I'd try to stimulate them. Each week it gave me the opportunity to talk to my kids, to get to know their likes and dislikes. I'd say: "Tell me what you did last week, what you did at school. Tell me about the nicest thing that happened, or the saddest thing." The film in which Lotte talks is too personal, too intense for the internet. It reveals too much. It would work well in a gallery setting, where you can sit on a bench watching, getting to know her.

I think the reception has been so strong because the film speaks to people. It carries a message about living your life, and enjoying every moment of having your children with you. Being the best parent you can be. Don't forget how they once were, how they once looked. I was so afraid that I'd forget how they look. Now I never will. And I'll keep filming, of course.

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March 09 2012

Visualization of the Week: Kids Count in Washington, D.C.

At the recent DC Data Without Borders Datadive, a group came together to build a project for DC Action for Children, an advocacy group looking to improve the lives of the youngest citizens in Washington, D.C. The team — comprised of Jason Hoekstra, Sisi Wei, and Jerzy Wieczorek — created a data visualization that shows detailed information about neighborhoods and schools in the DC area.

The visualization includes information about average family income, number of police stations, number of libraries, number of child care facilities, and percentage of families living beneath the poverty level. At the school level, the visualization also shows the percentage of students who receive free and reduced school lunches as well as how well students perform in math and reading compared to other DC schools.

DC Action for Children visualization
Screenshot from the D.C. Kids Count visualization. See the full interactive version.

You can explore the visualization here.

Found a great visualization? Tell us about it

This post is part of an ongoing series exploring visualizations. We're always looking for leads, so please drop a line if there's a visualization you think we should know about.

Strata Santa Clara 2012 Complete Video Compilation
The Strata video compilation includes workshops, sessions and keynotes from the 2012 Strata Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. Learn more and order here.

More Visualizations:

February 27 2012

Museums love teenagers, but only in uniform

Salford Museum's decision to throw out two teenagers was more about protecting its cathedral-like status than the girls' safety

What do you have to do to get thrown out of a museum? Smear sticky fingers on the Persian tapestries? Scream so loud that other visitors can't thumb quietly through the browning albums of dried Azolla caroliniana? Do a cartwheel in front of a Caravaggio? Last week, two girls were asked to leave Salford Museum and Art Gallery. They were thrown out for being 13.

The museum explained that their expulsion was "for their own safety". Like most self-respecting teenagers, they'd gone out over half term without an adult.

I don't for one minute believe the museum's action was prompted by concern for any child. If that were the case, why would they propel two girls into the streets of a busy town to wander across roads all on their own among total strangers? And sadly Salford isn't the only museum to discriminate against young people; many have similar bans.

It's odd that Top Shop shares no such anxieties – my own teenager hangs out there and at vast, alienating shopping centres all the time. Libraries and leisure centres also welcome her and her friends without their mums in tow. So why is it particularly dangerous for teenagers to visit a museum unaccompanied? The real reason museums don't want them is not to protect children from danger, but to protect their precious objects and preserve their cathedral-like status. They are worried about how the teenagers will act within their highly cultured walls.

Many museums argue, completely erroneously, that they don't have a choice; it's illegal to allow teenagers in by themselves. There is no such law. But there is an age limit. For a museum to allow a child to visit aged eight or under, it may possibly need to be Ofsted registered. But any older than that, it's up to the individual institution to set its own rules.

It would be wrong to say museums shun all teenagers. They love them in school uniform, all besuited and trotting along behind a teacher. They are very keen to support "out of the classroom learning" as long as those having the lessons are accompanied by plenty of classroom assistants. They'll issue them with the modern-day equivalent of clipboards – hand-held electronic devices – and send them out on tightly controlled trails. Then they'll boast about how many young people have visited their museum each year, and how much they have learnt.

Yet if these same teenagers turned up out of school hours, dressed in hoodies, T-shirts and trainers, they'd get a very different reception. Many museums ban mobile phones at the door – sometimes the same museums that thrust gadgetry upon their school and youth-group visitors. On a recent visit to Tate Modern, even middle-aged me was told off by a gallery assistant for answering my mobile and asked to switch it off. Yet that same museum runs pioneering programmes with young people, involving some of the most hi-tech digital gadgetry available.

That's not the only irony teenagers face when trying to access our artistic and cultural heritage. Over half of Britain's museums charge entry at the door. Many of these begin to charge full admission aged 12 and up, forcing teenagers to purchase an adult ticket. Yet if two 13-year-olds turned up on their own, they'd be turfed out for not being grown up enough.

There is another relationship museums could have with their teenage visitors. Museums are wonderfully safe places. As far as I know, no museum has suffered a spate of muggings or been the scene of a murder. It's unlikely that rival teenage gangs will wage turf wars under the Tintorettos or between the Stegosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus rex. It would be difficult to clandestinely shoot up by the glass cabinets of 19th-century French porcelain. There is no casual street violence in a museum, the thing we all fear our children will get caught up in. What wonderful places museums could be for teenagers in a sometimes threatening and troubled world. They could be havens from harm. They could, in fact, be places where teenagers could congregate, hang out and wander around unaccompanied "for their own safety".

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December 30 2011

M.C. Escher Eye Drawing | artprojectsforkids.org

" M.C. Escher was one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. ...

 

    -------

 

... He created many visual riddles, and an amazingly detailed piece titled “Eye” that offers lots of detail for students to imitate.
Students may use either soft drawing pencils or black charcoal pencils. Whichever media, they need to be able to sharpen their tools to make fine detailed lines.
1. I started by passing out a cardboard template of an eye shape to trace. It really helps to speed things up so students can focus on the following steps.
2. A partial circle is drawn, one that touches the top of the eye.
3. An inner circle is added, along with eyelashes and a rectangle “highlight” that is to stay white.
4. Crease lines are added above the lashes. The inner circle is shaded in to look black, and lines radiating around it are added. They eye is colored in a dark gray.
5. Light shading is added above and below the eye, and on the right side of the eye. All the shading is rubbed with a paper stump to blend in.

CA Visual Art Standard: Creative Expression, Grade Four
2.1 Use shading (value) to transform a two-dimensional shape into what appears to be a three-dimensional form (e.g., circle to sphere)."

 

 

--------------------------------

 

quotation completed by oAnth - original source:

 http://www.artprojectsforkids.org/2009/07/mc-escher-eye-drawing.html

 

See it on Scoop.it, via manually by oAnth - from my scoop.it contacts

Boys in Albanian Countryside | flickr.com

United Nations Photo has added a photo to the pool:
Young boys and a flock of grazing sheep.
Photo ID 296621. 01/01/1991. Mamurras, Albania. UN Photo/G Accascina.

 

----------------------------

// oAnth - original source:

http://www.unmultimedia.org/photo/ via https://secure.flickr.com/photos/un_photo/6589010235/in/pool-agriculture/



November 25 2011

Reborns: dolls so lifelike you could mistake them for real infants

Some people buy them because they can't conceive; others just like the idea of having a baby around… Zoe Williams on a new phenomenon

In the National Portrait Gallery in London at the start of this month, at the awards ceremony for the Taylor Wessing prize, a woman was standing with a tiny baby. That in itself was not unusual – there were probably three or four babies dotted around, and she was cradling it in the normal way, as if to support its head and not wake it. But it somehow didn't look right; it looked, in my peripheral vision, as if it wasn't moving enough. Anyway, while I Englishly darted looks at it without approaching, my friend did approach, and it wasn't real. Phew. Not ill, just inanimate.

It belonged to the photographer Rebecca Martinez, who had used it, and many others like it, for her project preTenders. And while I went over to look at it, and laughed, I felt resentful at being tricked. It had stirred some panic in me, something similar to that impotent distress you experience when you hear about a child being killed by an act of violence. Later, when telling me about the four years she has spent photographing people with these dolls, their collectors, their creators, her friends, a whole variety of subjects, Martinez said, "If I go out and I hold this doll in any way other than you would a real baby, people get mad. I cannot just hold it casually, like by one arm or whatever, because people will go, 'It's not right, you can't do that.' They go crazy. Even though the rational self knows it's a doll." But I'm with the mad people, because you don't start off knowing it's a doll; you start off thinking it's a baby. You can be disabused of your mistake but you can't, immediately, be disabused of your anger.

Reborns occupy a place that I think is unique in culture: to the artists who make them, they are works of art, and the artistry is undeniable. To some collectors, they are dolls, and to other collectors, they are something else altogether, a memory of a child or a substitute for a child. But it's possible to fall into neither of those categories, to be neither appreciating them as art, nor finding them cute as dolls, but nevertheless to respond to them in some profound way.

This is a relatively new phenomenon, springing up over the past six to seven years and spawning in its wake an entire industry that goes way beyond the making and selling of the dolls themselves into web forums, conferences, global export; generating ancillary industries, such as the provision of bespoke babywear. The dolls arrive as kits: vinyl "sculpts" made by specific people – some of them, such as Donna Rubert and Denise Pratt, are now big names in the business. Individual artists will then build on the basic structure, using layers of oil paint and various methods for the hair (a doll with painted hair will take a week to make, whereas a doll with real hair will take a month, since each strand needs to be individually rooted). They are weighted so they feel exactly like holding a baby, except that they're not warm. You can get quite crude ones on eBay for £100 but at their most expensive they can stretch to thousands of pounds (one was sold recently in the UK for around £11,000).

Martinez is full of stories about the way people react to a Reborn doll – the people who get freaked out and won't touch them, the people who seem to feel neutral towards them and yet start rocking them as if they were real, the men who play pranks with them. But before we consider the reactions of bystanders, the experiences of people who make and buy them are fascinating.

Claire Hughes and Min Li, two UK-based Reborn creators, are very upbeat and straightforward that this is an act of craft, with a burgeoning and busy market. Hughes remarks on the power of the dolls, but the vignettes she describes seem to underscore the fact that it's illusory: "My mum works in a care home with old people. If I take one of the dolls in, they love it. They think it's real, it calms them right down. The manager can't even look at them." She likens it to eccentric male hobbies – playing with train sets, or sitting for three hours by a riverbank, waiting to catch a fish.

Min Li has three boys, real ones, and started making baby girl dolls for her own enjoyment; she has since built up a market in China. "Most western babies have very thin hair and Chinese babies have lots of hair. They like that [thick-haired] kind of baby. So that's why I started doing it. Most people favour boys in their actual families," a hangover from the one-child policy, she says, "but," she adds feelingly, "people love girls."

The American artists I speak to, Cher Simnitt, Diana Mosquera and Gia Heath, seem less abashed, less inclined to forge an ironic distance. They describe the people who buy their dolls as more emotionally involved. Some people want a doll because what they really want is more children, but for practical or physical reasons can't have them; some want a doll made of their toddler, as the real child grows up, and they miss that physical sensation of the newborn; a family might commission a doll of their newborn to give to a grandparent, then, when the grandparent dies, it will pass back to the family "as a beautiful heirloom", Simnitt says. One woman who couldn't have children came to Heath and said, "Here's a picture of me, here's a picture of my husband, do you think you could make a baby that would look like us?" There's a story I find inexplicably moving about a wife who commissioned a doll of her husband, as a baby, then gave it to her mother-in-law. (What's the female for "uxorious"? And is there even a word for loving your mother-in-law that much?)

Then there are "portrait" or "memorial" babies, in which someone who has lost a child gets a doll commissioned in its image. Simnitt was, at one point, a midwife and a doll creator, and remembers, "I helped a woman who was 16 weeks pregnant. She came in and we got no heartbeat and she went on to miscarry. And she wanted to know what the baby looked like, but she was afraid to see it. So I had a model and I said, 'This is exactly what your baby looked like.' She carried that model for three weeks. And she said to me, 'I needed to grieve and hold something physical, and just work through it, and now I can let it go.' That's kind of drastic, I realise, but whatever gets you through."

What is more striking than these commemorative dolls, which are very rare, is the similarities between the artists. Before they started Reborn-creating full-time, they were often engaged in an intensely nurturing business, whether that was midwifery or art teaching for home-schooled kids; they had all been intensely nurturing people from a very young age – Simnitt cared for her mother, who was disabled by childhood polio, then went on to foster 125 drug-addicted babies and toddlers. Heath has adopted children; Mosquera had a typical experience as the oldest child of a large family: "I always took care of my sisters. When we had pets, I used to help with the breeding of the pets – there was always something being birthed around me." More importantly, both Simnitt and Heath suffered a tremendous loss just before they started making the dolls – Simnitt lost her mother, to whom she had been so close that, "literally, for 12 years, I was her body. When we ate, we had one plate, I took a bite, she took a bite, we bathed together. When someone passes away after having had a relationship like that, it's like something has been amputated from you. I would look at my hands and go, 'I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do with myself.' "

Heath, meanwhile, lost her baby daughter who was two months old, and says in a straightforward manner, "If I were to have a real daughter, I would love to have a daughter with green eyes and dark red hair and alabaster skin and freckles. I have my ideas, but when you go and put that on a doll, that's too much." It's almost as if they achieved this uncanny attention to detail as a product of their grief; that concentrating on something is a salve, but the focus of your concentration has to be a tightrope act, between reality and fantasy.

Martinez has observed the reactions these dolls get in many different scenarios, with friends and strangers, in different countries and cultures. "People say they want to hold the baby, then they get surprised, because the baby is made to feel as real as possible. Often, they'll start rocking the baby and cooing at it. And they'll realise what they're doing and they'll get embarrassed. They know on one level it's not real, and sometimes they're ashamed that they feel like that, that they've been fooled. It's something very deep and biological in people, something instinctive we have, that they're automatically comforting their baby. Some people are just delighted; they'll kiss the baby and not want to give it back. One time I had a man and he grabbed it and his body just tensed up, and he threw it on the ground. And I was upset, I said, 'Hey, that's a very expensive item, how dare you do that?' And he was so into what he was doing, he was so stiff, he wouldn't move for several minutes. He was trembling."

Martinez has observed wryly the stark differences between men's reactions in America and in Mexico – where American men will try to play some prank, to get a shocking reaction, Mexican men are much more nurturing and will kiss it and tend it, openly. She tells an extraordinary story about a time when she was burgled, in San Francisco: the boot of her car had been forced open, but nothing was stolen – she and the police surmised that the criminals had taken one look at the Reborns she had in there, concluded that they were real dead babies, and taken off. What was interesting was what happened next. "One of the officers said, 'I want you to photograph me with the baby.' So I said, 'What's your idea?' And he said, 'I want you to photograph me pointing a gun to the baby's head.' Even though it scared me a little – I'm afraid of guns – I thought, what a great photo this would be. I went to get a baby and in the couple of minutes I was gone, he was obviously talked out of it by his partner. So instead I have a photograph of him nurturing the baby. A few months later I was in New York and I walked past two police officers posing with tourists. So I went up and started talking, and one of the officers said, 'I have an idea' and said exactly the same thing, 'I want to be pointing a gun at the baby's head.' It was fascinating to me that these two police officers, 3,000 miles apart, both had the same idea."

It's funny because it's the grand impact images, the ones that fuel revulsion, that shock me the least; I can imagine how someone could look at a perfect simulacrum of a newborn and say, "I know, I'll pretend to eat it, or blow smoke on it, or smash its head against a wall." The Reborn-as-art is provocative, and you feel as if you should meet the provocation, that otherwise you're not up to its subversive standards. What I find compellingly mysterious, but simultaneously totally understandable, is the way people love them.


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Maybe baby – in pictures

Rebecca Martinez photographs these lifelike dolls, their makers and their owners



October 10 2011

Bahamas: Women's Right to Safety

“Crime in the Bahamas denies women and their children the right to safety, which is a human right,” says Womanish Words, adding: “The new Nobel laureates I hope will remind Bahamian women of this human right to safety , and inspire us to courage enough to speak out when this right is denied to us.”

China: “Do you have memories from before you were kidnapped?”

A girl plays the violin at a train station in Beijing

A girl plays the violin for change at a train station in Beijing. Screenshot from documentary trailer shot in November 2010

If you’ve ever visited a Chinese city, you will see children begging or performing with musical instruments near train stations or on crowded streets for spare change. What you’ve witnessed is the tip of a serious and tough problem in China – the kidnapping and selling of children.

In early 2009, the public security authorities in China have implemented an anti-kidnapping campaign. At the end of 2010, official figures (not necessarily reliable) showed that 9,165 cases of trafficked women and 5,900 cases of trafficked children were uncovered; 9,388 children and 17,746 women were rescued, and 3,573 criminal kidnapping gangs were destroyed.

The true number of kidnapped children is likely to be much higher than the number rescued. According to some estimates, as many as 70,000 children in China are abducted by gangs each year.

What is fuelling this child kidnapping? Thanks to the one-child policy, and Chinese traditions placing huge pressure on families to have sons, stolen children are often sold into new families. On the other hand, kidnapped girls are often sold into areas where there is a surplus of unmarried men. Still many others are sold into street performance, begging or prostitution.

Telling their story

The child kidnapping issue is the theme of an upcoming documentary called “Living with Dead Hearts: The Search for China's Kidnapped Children” by Charles Custer.

Custer is an American strongly interested in China. Currently based in Beijing, he runs the successful blog ChinaGeeks, which offers translation and analysis of the China blogosphere. For his documentary, Custer wants to go beyond statistics and analysis. By focusing on the personal and emotional side of the stories, he wants to attach real faces to these social problems.

At the end of last year, Custer launched a fundraising appeal on Kickstarter to make the documentary. Following generous responses of more than 100 people, the project has successfully raised more than $8,500, and Custer has since then spent much of his free time tracking, interviewing and filming parents and kidnapped children.

This month, the film crew has put together an update together with an early trailer of the film:

Their goal is for viewers abroad to be able to relate to Chinese people as individuals after watching the documentary. They would be able to see, for example, how the parents of kidnapped children feel with questions like, “When did you discover your daughter was missing? Could you tell us more about your daughter’s character and hobbies? What methods have you tried to look for her apart from reporting to the police and the school? How do you plan to keep looking?” Or how kidnapped children feel as adults: “Do you have memories from before you were kidnapped? Do your current “parents” remember from whom you were purchased? And how do they feel about it now?”

If you care about this issue, you can see how Custer is progressing on the documentary at the dedicated website www.livingwithdeadhearts.com, or learn more about kidnapped children in a special section of ChinaGeeks.org. If you wish to show your support, visit the Chinese charities Baby Come Home and Xinxing Aid, which support kidnapped and street children in various ways.

South Korea: Movie Prompts Outrage Over Disabled Child Sex Crimes

In South Korea, the movie ‘Crucible' has brought a long-forgotten rape case to light. It is based on the true story of disabled children who were continuously raped by school officials for five years; the offenders however, walked away from the courtroom nearly unscathed.

The movie, which has been a major hit for several consecutive weeks and been seen by several million Koreans, has sparked calls for the reinvestigation of the crime and amendment of related law articles.

The serial rapes were done to hearing-impaired kids in a special education institution in Gwangju city. The case was unearthed by an insider report in 2005 and brought into the public eye in 2009 in the novel ‘Dogani', on which the movie is originally based.

The offenders, including the school headmaster, were indicted, but of the six school officials involved, only two received jail terms of less than a year, while two were sentenced to probation and the remaining two went unpunished. The trailer can be viewed on YouTube:

Less than a week since the movie was released, over 74,000 netizens have signed an online petition [ko] demanding further investigation. Accepting public calls for action, a special police team has been set up and Gwangju city has decided to shut down [ko] the school. The Supreme Court plans to draft [ko] a new bill that will enable courts to order harsher punishments for sex crimes on disabled individuals.

Even the Grand National Party, the nation's ruling party, is discussing [ko] enabling judges to punish sex crimes on under-age kids retrospectively. The Twittersphere lit up with responses, with many saying that they felt repulsed, uneasy, helpless and angry after watching the movie.

Twitter user @lovely__StaR tweeted [ko] :

나도 도가니보고 기분 찝찝했어요. 분노와 슬픔과 뭐라 형용할 수 없는 감정이 뒤섞여서.

After I watched the movie, I felt really uneasy because all these feelings - anger, sadness and something indescribable - are all jumbled together.

Son So-ra (@BbiBbiZz) tweeted [ko] :

불편한 진실이라는 수준을 넘어서 듣고도,알고도,외면하고 싶은 지경에 진실인것같다.. 아역배우들의 부모님들이 출연결정을 내린것이 참 대단할정도다!

It is beyond an uncomfortable truth. It is the truth we don't want to listen and we wish to turn away from, even though we knew it does exist. I applaud the parents of the young actors for their courageous decision of allowing their kids to star in such a movie.

Sports journalist, Seoh Ho-jung (@goalgoalsong) tweeted [ko] :

전 분노를 넘어 사회 구성원으로 책임감을 느꼈어요. 사회적 약자에 무관심했던 걸 반성했고요.

Beyond anger, I felt the sense of responsibility as a member of society. And I deeply regret that I've been so apathetic toward underprivileged groups in our society.

Seoh Young-seok(@du0280) tweeted [ko] that the city where the scenes are taking place is a reflection of the darker aspects of our society:

무진이란 작은 도시 속에서 교직채용비리, 경찰과 학원재벌들과의 유착관계, 전관예우 변호사의 비리적 현실, 학연과 돈에 넘어가는 의사와 판사, 변호사. […]축소판이더군요.

There is so much corruption in that small city of Mujin. There is corruption in the teacher hiring process, the chain of collusive ties between police and academic institute moguls, the back-scratching alliance of lawyers and former judges, and those doctors, judges and lawyers bending over for money and (making decisions) in favor of someone from their academic clique. It is a microcosm of our society.

Dong Soo (@taiot) tweeted [ko] a famous line from the movie. It is said by a male character who fought against the school authority for the kids but was finally kicked out of the school.

세상을 바꾸려는 게 아니라 세상이 나를 바꾸지 못하게 싸우는 것이다”(도가니)

It is not about changing the world, but I am fighting against the world forcing me to change.

Among numerous social media responses, tweets by Kim Kwang-jin (@cop5680) have invited controversy. Kim is the police officer in Gwangju who investigated the rape case several years ago. Kim tweeted [ko]:

어느덧 6년이라는 세월이 흘렀고, 그 사건 이후 내 기억 속에 서서히 사라져 갔던 그 애들을 기억하기 위해 당시 사건을 같이 수사했던 선배 형사와 함께 영화관을 찾았다. 6년전 광주 인화학교에 다니던 여학생들에게 피해내용을 확인하면서 세상에서 일어나지 말아야 할 일들이 너무 많다고 생각했다. 경찰관으로 재직하면서 여러가지 사건을 접해보았지만 그 사건은 세상의 모든 단어를 사용 하더라도 제대로 표현할 수 없었다.[…]정상인도 그런 피해를 당하면 제대로 표현하지 못하는 법인데, 하물며 아픔을 감내하며 고사리 같은 손으로 만든 일그러지고 처절한 그들의 수화에 미안하고 또 미안했다.

Six years have passed since that rape case and my memory of those kids got blurry over the years. To revive my memory of those kids, I went to the movie with my senior partner with whom I investigated the case. [Back when he was investigating the case] As I delved further into what had happened to those young female students in Gwang-ju In-wha school, I felt that there are so many things going on this world that should never be happening. Although I had experienced various different cases, in this case - even with using all the words that ever existed in the world dictionary - it is impossible to describe [the brutality of ] this case. […] Even non-disabled people, when they became the victim of such assaults, they have a hard time describing the crime scene, but those kids who are using sign languages to describe what had happened… When I watched the scene of the kids forcing themselves to describe the brutal, cruel situation with their small hands, I felt really sorry.

Kim later added that some of the scenes in the movie, such as the police taking bribes from the headmaster to cover up the case, excessive police brutality to protesters and a student victim killed by a train accident were added up to spice up the movie.

Best-selling novelist Kong Ji-young who wrote the novel ‘Dogani', acknowledged this aspect but lambasted [ko] Kim for delaying the investigation. Kong tweeted [ko] that if they were really sorry, the police should not have delayed the investigation for four months for no apparent reason. Kim explained that the four month delay was spent laying groundwork for investigation.

October 09 2011

Bangladesh: Internet Safety For children

As several internet festivals start in different cities of Bangladesh, Badruddoza stresses the need for making internet safe for the children before letting them use it freely.

October 08 2011

Bahrain: Teen Protester Shot Dead

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Picture of killed Bahraini teen protester Ahmed Al-Qattan

Protests erupted in Bahrain this weekend as angry mourners buried 16-year-old Ahmed Al-Qattan, who was killed by a bird shot according to the ministry of interior affairs, which rarely states the truth about protesters' death causes:

@moi_bahrain: The report of medical examiner of the Public Prosecution attributed the death of Ahmed Jaber to injury of a birdshot.

@moi_bahrain: The Ministry of Interior launches immediate investigation of the death of Ahmed Jaber.

In contrast, the Bahrain News Agency, which led a scandalous performance in fabricating a lot of stories during the February uprising, stated a different cause of death for the killed teenage:

@bna_en: Interior Ministry: Ahmed Al Jaber Died due to Heart Failure http://tinyurl.com/3cxrub4

British blogger Marc Owen Jones (@marcowenjones) tweeted a note on Bahraini media's take on Al-Qattan's death:

@marcowenjones: None of Bahrain's English language newspapers have mentioned the death of Ahmed Jaber al-Qattan. Steve Jobs got a double page spread though.

General Secretary of Al-Wefaq opposition group Ali Salman (@WefaqGS) mourned the death of Al-Qattan saying:

شعب البحرين يزف أحمد القطان شهيدا اخر على طريق الحرية والديموقراطية اللهم تقبل منا هذا القربا

@WefaqGS: The people of Bahrain present Ahmed Al-Qattan another martyr in the path of freedom and democracy. We pray the Almighty to accept this sacrifice.

One of Bahrain's active Twitter users Mohammed Ashour (@MohmdAshoor) tweeted commenting:

@MohmdAshoor: Ahmed Shams 15 y/o .. Moh'd Farhan 6 y/o .. Ali AlShaikh 14 y/o .. Ahmed Al Qattan 16 y/o .. Child martyrs of Bahrain.

Rula Al-Saffar (@alsaffarrula) head of Nursing in Salmaniya Medical Complex who was recently sentenced to 15 years in jail for treating protesters, tweeted about the teen martyr saying:

@alsaffarrula: If our public hospital was safe & had his original medics! Ahmed would have been saved! My heart is bleeding!

Bahraini Twitter user (@BuMuhsin) tweeted a copy of Ahmed's death certificate which states the cause of death is birdshot wounds:

Ahmed Al-Qattan's death certificate

In this video, protesters who were with Ahmed filmed his last moments in life. It shows a group of young people gathered around the body checking it for pulse and signs of life while awaiting medical help in a house. When injured, people injured by police are afraid to go to hospitals because the police will arrest them there.

Bahraini journalist Abbas Bu Safwan tweeted:

@abbasbusafwan: EVERY ONE MUST KNOW THAT WOUNDED PROTESTERS IN #BAHRAIN CANT GET TREATMENTS IN HOSPITALS FEARING PROSECUTION #UN #USA #EU #UK #ARABSPRING

Of course, the death of Al-Qattan was not going to pass with a simple funeral. Bahrainis from different areas gathered in thousands for his funeral which eventually led to clashes with riot police.

@jihankazerooni: Thousands of Bahrainis are participating in the funeral of the Martyr Ahmed Al qattan 16 year old child.

Another Bahraini (@loveforbahrain) posted a video of a riot police car trying to run over those marching to the funeral:

@loveforbahrain: Police trying to run over the marchers in Martyrs Ahmad Alqattan funeral.

Here is also one of the videos from Al-Qattan's funeral which turned into a demonstration with chants against the regime

Several injuries were reported throughout the evening.

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

October 05 2011

Brazil: Mobilization on Twitter Takes Down Pedophile Blog

Following wide mobilization via social media, Brazilian netizens managed to take down a pedophile blog just hours after the first alert was sent on Twitter, on the morning of Monday, October 3, 2011.

The blog in question, called Sim a Pedofilia (Yes to Pedophilia) [pt], was very clear in its call for the sexual abuse of minors. The page had only one post with a video containing explicit images, published on July 15 and had 454 critical comments. Nevertheless, it stayed up for almost three months.

In the state of Alagoas, journalist Marcos Rodrigues, who usually follows social media while his radio show is on air, explains on the blog Jornal do Ócio (Journal of Leisure) [pt] how the situation unfolded:

Screenshot of Twitter action from blog Jornal do Ócio

Screenshot of Twitter action from blog Jornal do Ócio

Hj, enquanto estava no ar com o nosso [programa de rádio] “Jornal do Povo” recebí no twitter uma postagem dando conta da existência de um site de pedofilia. Em meio a tantos protestos de indignação também me revoltei ao ver a única postagem existente.

A cena era chocante. Uma criança estava sendo abusada por um adulto. No blog o autor, desconhecido e covarde, defendia a pedofilia. Cinicamente dizia sim a essa prática nefasta e abominável.

Diante deste fato repugnante não tivemos dúvidas. Acionamos a Polícia Federal e o delegado Políbio Brandão respondeu imediatamente. Depois de orientar no ar como se deveria proceder, poucas horas depois - duas especificamente- o site foi tirado do ar.

Today, while I was on air with our [radio show] “Jornal do Povo” (People's Journal) I received a tweet calling attention to the existence of a pedophile website. Amidst so many demonstrations of anger I also felt furious when I saw the blog's single post.

The scene was shocking. One child was being abused by an adult. On the blog, the unknown and cowardly author defended pedophilia. [He/she] cynically said yes to this despicable and abominable practice.

Given this repugnant fact we had no doubt. We contacted the federal police and the sheriff Políbio Brandão replied immediately. After he gave guidance on air on how to proceed, a few hours later - specifically two - the site was taken down.

Lenilda Luna (@lenildaluna), also a journalist, explains [pt] that any person can report abuse on blogging platforms, such as Blogger:

@lwisster: @CanAlmeida @oscardemelo no próprio blog, em cima, tem “denunciar abuso”. Qto mais pessoas denunciarem, melhor!

@lwisster: @CanAlmeida @oscardemelo on the blog itself, at the top, there is a “report abuse” button. The more people who report it, the better!

Lua Beserra (@LuaBeserra), who uses Twitter to exercize citizenship, celebrates [pt]:

@LuaBeserra: pedofilia na internet? DENUNCIEM! http://denuncia.pf.gov.br, hoje eu e meus companheiros do twitter tiramos do ar um blog de pedófilos!

@LuaBeserra: pedophilia on the internet? REPORT! http://denuncia.pf.gov.br today me and my Twitter companions took down a pedophile's blog!

Apparently, it was not the first time that this blog had showed up. Verônica Muzzi (@VeMuzzi) writes [pt]:

@VeMuzzi: Eu não acredito que o filho da puta que criou o blog simapedofilia.blogspot.com voltou. Ele ainda não foi preso não ? af.

@VeMuzzi: I can't believe that the son of a bitch who created the blog simapedofilia.blogspot.com is back. Hasn't he been arrested yet? af.

Ronaldo Júnior (@RoonaldGomez) states that the action shouldn't end with the blog's deletion:

@RoonaldGomez: Galeeera o Blog simapedofilia.blogspot.com foi removido, ISSO É BOM, mas tem um grande problema, eu quero ver o cara É PRESO

@RoonaldGomez: Guys, the blog simapedofilia.blogspot.com has been removed. THAT IS GOOD, but there is a big problem, what I want to see is this guy ARRESTED.

Perhaps it is possible, if users get together to investigate the case. The final conclusion [pt] of Marcos Rodrigues, who says he is from the time when people had to go onto the streets to mobilize, is that, united, the users of social networks have a lot of power:

Então, cheguei a conclusão que uma nova forma de cobrar e exigir está em prática. Mais do que nunca, precisamos usar essas ferramentas com mais habilidade. Alguém vai nos ler, nos ouvir e, principalmente, agir.

So I reached the conclusion that a new way of identifying responsibility and demanding action is in practice. More than ever we need to use these tools with more skill. Someone will read us, will hear us, and, most importantly, will act.

October 02 2011

India: Goa Takes Steps To Stop Female Foeticide

Ali Waris at Youth Ki Awaaz reports that the Goa local government is offering a special monetary scheme to girls born in the state to stop female foeticide and help change the skewed sex ratios.

September 30 2011

Uzbekistan: Activists detained for photographing child labor

Tomyris reports that two members of an unregistered Uzbekistan’s Human Rights Society were detained by the authorities for photographing schoolchildren picking cotton in the country's southern province.

September 29 2011

Bahamas: Time to Take Action Against Crime

As a missing child is found dead, Weblog Bahamas says: “I would call on Prime Minister Ingraham to not wait until next Monday to make a statement to the nation on crime. The time to act is now… and we must act swiftly and prudently.”

Greece: “Europe, come be in my shoes, before judging me”

Global Voices in Greek translator Margie Lazou posts an open and unvarnished account of her daily struggles as a single mother in crisis-ridden Greece on her personal blog: “All those people out there in Europe, please, come live here, be in my shoes for some time before judging me.”

September 28 2011

Puerto Rico: Online Forum for Good Dads

“Over the years, I've worried about how I'm doing as a father”, says Gil the Jenius - which is why he has nothing but praise for a new website that “bring[s] good Dads together and let[s] them…share what it is to be a father.”

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